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Beliefnet News

Kidnapped Italian Priest Freed

posted by David Kuo

Associated Press
Manila, Philippines – July 19, 2007 – An Italian missionary priest kidnapped more than a month ago has been released after negotiations with a rogue faction of a Muslim separatist group, Philippine police said Friday.
The Rev. Giancarlo Bossi, 57, was kidnapped June 10 in the Southeast Asian nation’s volatile south.
Chief Superintendent Jaime Caringal, a regional police commander, said the Roman Catholic priest was freed at about 9 p.m. Thursday along the boundary between Lanao Del Sur and Lanau Del Norte provinces. “He is well, but he lost a lot of weight,” Caringal said.
In Rome, Italian Premier Romano Prodi announced the release. “Father Giancarlo Bossi has been freed … I’m truly emotional, happy,” Prodi said. “Today is his mother’s birthday, so it was also a very lucky coincidence.”
On July 10, a Philippine marine convoy searching for Bossi was ambushed by Muslim insurgents in jungle on the southern island of Basilan, and 14 troops were killed. The military blamed the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf for the clash.
Pope Benedict XVI said last week that he was praying daily for Bossi, and Italy sent a longtime diplomat, Margherita Boniver, to the Philippines to work for his release. Benedict received the news of Bossi’s release with “great joy,” according to Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Bush Alters Interrogation Rules

posted by David Kuo

Associated Press
Washington – President Bush signed an executive order Friday spelling out new interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects that bar cruel and inhumane treatment, humiliation or denigration of prisoners’ religious beliefs.
The White House declined to say whether the CIA currently has a detention and interrogation program, but said if it did, it must adhere to the guidelines outlined in the executive order. The order targets captured al-Qaida terrorists who have information on attack plans or the whereabouts of the group’s senior leaders.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press

Latin Mass Change Praised by Jewish Leader

posted by David Kuo

United Press International
Rome, Jul 19, 2007 (UPI via COMTEX) — Jewish leaders in Italy praised the Vatican Thursday for contemplating the removal of a Latin mass prayer that calls for the conversion of Jews.
The praise from the nation’s Jewish community comes after Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state for the Vatican, said Wednesday that the prayer could be removed soon from the reintroduced mass, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
The Latin mass was reintroduced by Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year and immediately prompted a religious furor over its controversial stance on Judaism.
While the pope introduced a modernized version of the controversial prayer that eliminated harsher language, the context of the religious text remained the same, ANSA said.
Therefore Jewish leaders throughout Italy said they were happy at hearing this week’s announcement from Bertone.
“The declarations made by Cardinal Bertone clear away the fears that we and others expressed in recent days,” Union of Italian Jewish Communities head Renzo Gattegna told ANSA.
Copyright 2007 United Press International

Pakistan Suicide Blasts Kill 51

posted by David Kuo

Karachi, Pakistan – July 19, 2007, Pakistan’s turmoil spread from the Afghan frontier to the south, where a suicide bomber struck a convoy carrying Chinese workers – one of three suicide attacks that killed at least 51 people Thursday.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf called for national unity against extremists enraged by the army’s bloody assault on Islamabad’s Red Mosque.
Suicide attacks, bombings and shootings and the siege of the mosque, which had mounted a Taliban-style anti-vice campaign challenging the government’s authority, have killed about 285 people in Pakistan so far this month, raising concern about the threat posed by Islamic extremists.
In the deadliest attack Thursday, a car bomber targeting a minibus carrying about 10 Chinese technicians pulled up to their convoy as it was passing through the main bazaar in Hub, a town in Baluchistan province near the southern city of Karachi.
It blew up next to a police vehicle escorting the foreign workers, killing 29 people – 22 Pakistani civilians and seven police officers. Thirty other people were wounded, said Hub police chief Ghulam Mohammed Thaib.
Maj. Gen. Saleem Nawaz, a commander of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary, considered the outcome fortunate.
“It was laden with very heavy explosives, but due to our spacing and our security measures, Allah has been very kind,” Nawaz said on Dawn News television.
The police “sacrificed their lives and the Chinese friends were absolutely safe,” he said.
The blast ripped off the front of several roadside shops. Several damaged cars and buses lay rammed into one another among a tangle of bricks and clothing.
Then late Thursday, a suicide attacker detonated a bomb at a mosque in an army camp in the northwestern town of Kohat, killing at least 15 people, officials said. According to a special branch police officer, about 30 people were wounded.
The blast went off as trainee soldiers held evening prayers. District chief Sedh Ghoar said the wounded included at least two children.
Earlier, a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives when guards prevented him from entering the parade ground of the police academy in another northwestern town, Hangu, 45 miles southwest of Peshawar.
The bomber killed six bystanders and one policeman, and 24 othe people were wounded, academy chief Attaullah Wazir said. Several hundred trainees were receiving instruction on the parade ground at the time, he said.
The spate of bombings, the deepest security crisis faced by Musharraf since he seized power in 1999, has also begun to weigh on Pakistan’s capital markets, suggesting it could soon threaten the strong economic growth that is one of the general’s proudest boasts.
The Karachi Stock Exchange’s main share index fell by about 3.4 percent Thursday, extending a slide begun the previous day, with analysts saying the violence scared off investors.
“We have to take the country forward, and with extremist activities all economic achievements made over the years will go to waste,” Musharraf told a gathering of students in Islamabad.
He urged the country to unite against “a few misguided elements bent upon killing their fellow Muslims,” according to the official news agency Associated Press of Pakistan.
Much of the violence has been in North West Frontier Province, especially North Waziristan, where pro-Taliban militants last weekend declared the end of a 10-month-old peace deal. The government has since been trying to revive it.
On Thursday, 30 elders from several tribal regions of the northwest traveled to North Waziristan in the latest government-backed effort to persuade militants to halt the violence.
“Our urgent demand is that there should be a cease-fire so that we can find a peaceful solution to this problem in a peaceful atmosphere according to tribal traditions,” said the group’s leader Malik Waris Khan Afridi.
Musharraf insists the accord – under which the military scaled back its operations in the U.S.-led war on terror in return for pledges from tribal leaders to contain militancy – offers the best long-term hope of pacifying the region.
However, U.S. officials warn the pact has given al-Qaida new opportunities to strengthen their operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and beyond.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s suspended chief justice pressed a court to overturn Musharraf’s decision to suspend him, or risk casting Pakistan further toward political instability.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry’s legal battle with Musharraf has damaged the general’s standing and galvanized opposition to military rule ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections due within six months.
A verdict on his appeal against Musharraf’s decision to suspend him and have a judicial tribunal investigate him for misconduct is expected on Friday.
Chaudhry’s chief counsel warned the court Thursday that failure to reinstate the judge “will create more instability.”

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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